Kaiser Chiefs – just the one album, Employment – which I think was their big hit album. Quite an interesting sound, a bit like a 21st Century Squeeze (see S) I suppose; quite laddish and upbeat songs. But also, quite forgettable too. They may still be around but they have had their 15 seconds of fame. Best songs – the single ‘I Predict A Riot’ and ‘Everyday I Love You Less and Less’.
Howard Kaylan – a real rarity this. Howard was one of the singers and songwriters with the Turtles (see T) who became along with Mark Volman, Flo and Eddie (see F) and now tour occasionally as The Turtles again. This single album Dust Bunnies (2006) doesn’t seem to be listed as an official release – and I suspect was made for a few friends and maybe fan-club members. I found it in a charity shop and recognised the name. It isn’t great I must admit but I keep it for sentimental reasons. It is all covers of songs…one or two are good though ‘Eloise’ and ‘Have I The Right’ – but most pass in one ear and out the other.
Keane – another hopeful band of the last few years…the hope was a bit overhyped. Only the one record – 2004’s Hopes and Fears. The record is quite pleasant and rolls along but apart from the big single ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ nothing else seems to penetrate to my brain. I am getting old I expect, but I really wonder; if this is the future of Rock and Roll, we are in trouble. Anyway, I have bought no more Keane since then – and they seem to have either disappeared or are just resting on their laurels.
Jonathon Kelly – was just another of those hopeful Seventies singer-songwriters. I saw him at The Roundhouse and bought his two solo albums. Twice Round The Houses (1970) was the first effort from this Irish troubadour – and lovely it was too. Very lyrical and folky – best songs ‘Madeleine’, ‘Sligo Fair’ and ‘Beware The Cursed Anna’. A couple of the songs almost rocked but most were soft and harmonic. 2 years later and Wait Until They Change The Backdrop appeared. More of the same but a touch rockier as the production was ramped up a bit. Not quite as good as his debut maybe but still a handful of good songs ‘Godas’ and ‘Anna’ and the quite rocky ‘Down On Me’. Jonathon sort of disappeared and made one last album in the late Seventies – but I had moved on by then.
Carole King – Well, they don’t get much bigger than Carole. She was part of the famous Goffin-King song-writing duo – but she split with her husband and went solo. She hit the big time with Tapestry (1971) – and this album was in the charts for 2 years. This is where I, and most of her fans, came in so that is where we will start. This was the very early Seventies, when singer-songwriters were exploding onto the scene. James Taylor (see T) had already recorded with Joni and he now worked with Carole on ‘You’ve Got A Friend’. But Carole was the consummate songwriter – and had a huge back library to call on. She included ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. But most of the other tracks were new originals. Where does one start -almost impossible to choose best songs as they are all brilliant. Carole has a seemingly effortless delivery, gliding into the notes with an ease and maturity; she was already in her prime when she made the album. The early Seventies were a time of great parties, often impromptu, and always accompanied by Tapestry playing on the record player. My favourites are probably ‘Way Over Yonder’, ‘I Feel The Earth Move’ and ‘Natural Woman’. I have actually played this album to death over the years – and yet it always sounds fresh and takes me back to those heady years.
I then worked back and bought her earlier release Writer (1970) , which hadn’t made much of an impression when it was released. In some ways it is as good as Tapestry – same piano led songs and silky voice and great songs. A couple of old hits ‘Goin back’ and ‘Up On The Roof’ and some great new songs; ‘Spaceship Races’ and ‘Raspberry Jam’ and the sad ‘Eventually’. A lovely record and a great companion piece to Tapestry.
Much later I bought The Early Years, released in 1999 – but dating back to the late 60’s. These are much simpler arrangements, probably demos really. Actually, the production is much closer to typical 60’s hit singles – a la Phil Spector than her later albums. On investigation however I find that four songs are originals and the other 6 are poor copies from her third album ‘Music’. Still, an interesting rawer sound seems to emerge from this album so it feels new and fresh, Best songs are ‘Crying in The Rain’, ‘It started All Over Again’ and ‘Breaking Up Is Hard To Do’ – which always sounds good.
Another later release after she achieved fame is The Legendary Demos released in 2012 but recorded from 62 to 71. These do sound like genuine demo tapes, maybe recorded to help sell the songs of Goffin-King. This is much better, great songs of course – most by Goffin-King, including ‘Crying In The Rain’, ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ and ‘Take care Of My Baby’ plus 6 demos from Tapestry. The follow-up to Tapestry came out in 1971 – Music – which was her third official release. As all artists must know it is almost impossible to release anything as good as a number one album that sold 7 million copies and was the anthem of so many of us in 1970. This record is pretty damn good, but lacks a little of the magic of Tapestry. The songs are just a bit quieter, more studied rather than seeming spontaneous – however it too was a great hit. Best songs – ‘Surely’, ‘Music’ and best of all ‘Back To California’. Carole was in the vanguard of the Singer Songwriter movement, but maybe her reluctance to sing live or her older years or just that we all began to suspect that her best songs were her collaborations with Gerry Goffin – whatever it was it, for me at least, it was slowly diminishing returns. The following year’s Rhymes And Reasons contained some excellent songs…and yet, it somehow failed to hit the mark she had set so high. This release only made it to number 2 and sold less well over the years. But, as so often happens, on re-listening my perceptions change somewhat and I have to admit it is quite a decent album. I think the problem was that all of her contemporaries (Joni, James Taylor, Neil Young etc) were moving on and up at a pace, especially in these early years of the new decade, whereas Carole seemed stuck in a very pleasant groove. Anyway, best songs ‘Peace in The Valley’, ‘Feeling Sad Tonight’ and ‘Been to Canaan’. Next up is Fantasy (1973) – I really gave up on Carole at this point. She went into a more jazzy style and I think she lost it. Only a couple of songs seem to have any quality to me, ‘Being at War with each other’ and ‘Believe in Humanity’.
Well – Carole has continued recording down the years, though she hardly ever performs live. I only have one other album Wrap Around Joy from 1974, which actually sounds better; much more like her original 2 albums. No really classic songs I think but a nice relaxing album. The title song is probably the best song; almost a soul classic. Also, not so bad are ‘Change in Mind, Change of Heart’ and ‘You Gentle Me’. I also have a greatest Hits Natural Woman which is all her best songs.